Challengers: Movie Review

Challengers Movie Review: More Than Tennis

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Within the span of a month, we've been treated to two exceptional sports films: the first being the Chinese film "YOLO," and the second being Luca Guadagnino's "Challengers." The fact that "Challengers" isn't based on a true story or a biopic allows its narrative the freedom to explore its own path, and it surpasses all expectations. In fact, labeling it solely as a sports film might be a bit misleading, as its emphasis on romance and drama far outweighs its portrayal of the sport itself. It's riveting, intriguing, and intense on multiple levels simultaneously.

Tashi Duncan (Zendaya) is a former tennis prodigy turned tennis coach, a force of nature who makes no apologies for her actions both on and off the court. Married to Art (Mike Faist), a tennis champion currently struggling with a losing streak, Tashi's strategy for her husband's redemption involves persuading him to participate in a seemingly insignificant tennis tournament. However, what was expected to be an easy victory for Art takes an unexpected turn when he finds himself facing off against the washed-up former pro, Patrick (Josh O'Connor) – Art's former best friend and Tashi's former boyfriend.

Whether it's the kinetic soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, the phenomenally shot sports sequences by Luca Guadagnino, or the intricate love triangle between the main characters, "Challengers" captivates its audience in various ways. The film endeavors to create a narrative with layers upon layers beneath its surface, transcending the boundaries of a typical sports film. Its refusal to conform to expectations is its greatest strength. Admittedly, some scenes may push the boundaries of sensuality, but for the most part, they serve a purpose within the narrative. The chemistry between Zendaya, Mike Faist, and Josh O'Connor is palpable and genuine, and their ongoing "competition" adds an enjoyable dynamic to the film. For us, this stands as Zendaya's best performance to date; her character evokes a deep sense of selfishness that really turned us against her - especially in the film's climactic and satisfying final scene. Overall, "Challengers" challenges the conventional notions of what a sports film should be, offering a deeply personal and intimate experience that extends far beyond the realm of sports.

Rating: 4 and a half reels

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